Unbeatable Hidilyn tops Thai rival to again win SEA Games gold

Karl Cedrick Basco, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 20 2022 02:32 PM | Updated as of May 20 2022 05:13 PM

Hidilyn Diaz of the Philippines competes in the 55kg women's snatch weightlifting competition during the 31st Southeast Asian Games in Hanoi, Vietnam, May 20, 2022. Luong Thai Linh, EPA-EFE
Hidilyn Diaz of the Philippines competes in the 55kg women's snatch weightlifting competition during the 31st Southeast Asian Games in Hanoi, Vietnam, May 20, 2022. Luong Thai Linh, EPA-EFE

(UPDATED) Olympic champion Hidilyn Diaz added yet another gold in an already impressive list of accolades after ruling the 31st Southeast Asian Games in Vietnam.

On Friday, Diaz clinched the top podium in the women’s 55kg category as she tallied a total of 206 kg, 3kg ahead of second-running Sanikun Tanasan of Thailand in the Hanoi Games. 

The pride of Zamboanga City said this feat signaled her intention to defend her Olympic championship.

“My journey towards Paris (Olympics) starts here, so this SEA Games gold is very important for me,” Diaz, 30, said.

“Napaka-meaningful nito (SEAG). After winning the gold medal, bumalik pa din ako, nakapag-deliver ng gold medal for the Philippines. Masaya ako na nandito ako ulit ako sa SEA Games, na i-represent ang Pilipinas.”

It was not a walk in the park for the Filipina sports icon as she was challenged by Tanasan, the Rio Olympics gold medalist, at the start of the competition.
 

Tanasan scored a point higher than Diaz after the snatch when she successfully lifted 93kg. Diaz attempted to surpass it but failed to lift 94kg in her third try.

In the clean and jerk, Tanasan initially lifted 104kg and 110kg to temporarily lead the competition with 203 kg. 

But Diaz flexed her muscle to pull away from the pack as she carried 114kg just in her first attempt to quickly steal the upper hand and eventually the gold. 

Tanasan tried to carry the same weight in her final attempt but to no avail. 

“We studied our opponent, we know she’s strong in the snatch, but not so much in the clean and jerk. But of course, we cannot downplay the competition. I always do my best,” said Diaz, adding that it was a struggle training for the SEA Games after her busy schedule as a result of her triumph at the Tokyo Olympics.

“I was able to drop my weight from 61 to 55, that is why I’m so grateful with Team HD to reach this performance again,” added Diaz, who plans to take part at the World Championships and the Asian Games, before the Paris Olympics.

Diaz attempted to lift 118kg and 121kg in her last two tries in the clean and jerk but failed to do so. 

Indonesia's Natasya Beteyob took the bronze for her 188kg total score. 

Diaz claimed her first SEA Games gold in the 2019 edition in the Philippines. Two years later, she made history by ending the almost century gold drought of the country in the Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan. 

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